A monthly selection of forthcoming events recommended by The Spectator's regular critics
The Coronation of Poppea, Queen Elizabeth Hall (071 928 8800). Monteverdi's great black comedy of sexual manners, presented by Opera Factory.
Baxkai, Coliseum (071 836 3161), from 5 May. World premi&e of an opera based on Euripides' The Bacchae, by John Buller. To be sung in Ancient Greek by a cast which includes Sarah Walker and Thomas Randle. Special low prices.
1 Puritan', Covent Garden (071 240 1066), from 12 May. Bellini's last opera, set in 17th-century England. Andrei Serban's intelligent WNO production is borrowed for Covent Garden and an exciting cast is led by June Anderson and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Daniele Gatti conducts.
1phigenie en Tauride, New Theatre. Cardiff (0222 394844), from 18 May. Gluck's much-admired and little-heard opera is given a welcome hearing in a new production for WNO, to be conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. The cast is led by Diana Montague in the title role and Simon Keenlyside as Orestes.
English National Ballet, Bristol Hippodrome (0272 299444), 4-9 May. Ben Stevenson's new production of Prokofiev's Cinderella, with designs by David Walker.
The Turning World, The Place (071 387 (1031), 1-23 May. A season of European dance featuring companies from Israel, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Fiance and Holland. Deirdre McMahon
In Basic Instinct (18), Michael Douglas plays a nervy detective on the trail of a killer with an ice-pick. Along the way he falls into the clutches of three women: a police psychiatrist, an AC/DC crime writer (Sharon Stone) and her jealous lesbian lover.
Volere Volare is an unconventional Italian production about a call-girl's romance with a sound-effects dubber (Maurizio Nichetti, also the director) who is so inhibited that he turns into a cartoon character in bed.
Merchant-Ivory's new adaptation of Howards End (PG) has an all-star cast including Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins.
The surest way of coming across unusual but inexpensive plants is to attend a plant sale at a garden open to the public. May kicks off with Garden Plant Heritage Week, organised by the many local branches of the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens. I suggest the bring-and- buy sale on 4 May at Ness Gardens, the University of Liverpool botanic gardens on the Wirral. The garden is well worth a visit too, especially at this time of year, for the primulas and rhododendrons. Open daily.
9.30 to dusk. Ursula Buchan
Graphic Works by William Nicholson, Fine Art Society, 148 Bond Street, WI. One of this century's most under-rated artists, co-founder of Beggarstaff Brothers.
The Friendly Hen; woodcut by William Nicholson, 1899 Mary Lord, Leighton House , W14, till 23 May. Attractive works by gritty Yorkshire landscape artist.
Peter Randall-Page, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield. Large stone sculptures by talented carver young enough to go far.
Rendez-Vous a Dieppe, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. The importance of Dieppe in 19th and early 20th centuries as artistic centre. Giles Auty
Arts & Crafts to Avant-Garde: Aspects of British Craft from 1880 to the Present, Royal Festival Hall, 1-31 May. A much-needed survey which traces visual and ideological continuities from William Morris to the present day.
Theo Moorman, 1907-1990: Her Life and Work as an Artist Weaver, University Gallery. Leeds.
6 May-I9 June. Moorman was creating big, abstract wall hangings well before the second world war their scale and ambitiousness puts the painting of that date to shame.
Gordon Russell: Designer of Furniture, 44-46 Eagle Street, WI, till 17 June. Celebrates centenary of birth of this shy modernist steeped in Arts & Crafts values — the man who gave us Utility furniture.
Music festivals in May: Brighton, 1-14; Beverley Early Music, 14-17; Bristol Proms, 9-23; Newbury Spring, 2-16; Bury St Edmunds, 7-23; Sheffield Chamber Music, 9-23; Malvern, 16-31; Bath International. 22 May-7 June; Lufthansa Baroque, London, 30 May-30 June.
The Bath Festival has a British theme this year. including performances of Elgar's Dream of Gerontius (Wells Cathedral, RPO under Groves on 27 May) and Tippett's Child of Our Time (Wells Cathedral, City of London Sinfonia under Hickox on 3 June). Melvyn Tan will play Beethoven's own Broadwood fortepiano (Assembly Rooms, 4 June). David Matthews is this year's featured composer.
The Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra, from the capital of Siberia, is touring the UK between 7 and 25 May. They will give 13 concerts under their principal conductor Arnold Katz, performing music by an array of Russian 19th- and 20th-century composers. The main stops on their tour are: RFH, London, 12 May; Symphony Hall, Birmingham. 13 and 18 May; Colston Hall, Bristol, 21 May; Royal Coricert Hall, Glasgow, 23 May. Peter Phillips
Henry IV Part II, Barbican (071 638 8891), 7 May. The second part of the RSC's production arrives at their London theatre, with Robert Stephens as an acclaimed Falstaff and Ralph Fiennes as Hal.
The Rules of the Game, Almeida (071 359 4404). 12 May. David Hare translates one of Pirandello's most intriguing works. A very strong cast includes Richard Griffiths and Nicola Paget. Jonathan Kent directs.
Coriolanus, Chichester ((1243 781312). 13 May. Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench take the leads in this Chichester Festival production of Shakespeare's knotty Roman play. Christopher Edwards
Cher, Wembley Arena, 6, 7 May. It's hard not to admire the assiduousness with which Cher has rebuilt her career in the past five years, even if her music (loud, theatrical. empty) takes a little more getting used to. Don't forget the binoculars for occasional viewings of her notorious tattoo.
Also recommended: Michelle Shocked. Town & Country. 4.5 May; They Might Be Giants, Town & Country, 13 May; Shakespear's Sister. Westminster Central Hall, 21, 22 May; and, promoting her delicious Ingdnue album. k d lung. touring, 5-9 May.